YearEnder: SPRINTS 2005


2005 - End of Year Reviews - SPRINTS
Saturday 31 December 2005
In the concluding edition of their comprehensive review of the last twelve months of Athletics competition, statisticians A. Lennart Julin and Mirko Jalava give their impressions of the SPRINTS in 2005 - the men’s and women’s 100m, 200m, 400m.

MEN – Sprints


In the 100m, Asafa Powell recorded the three fastest times of the year before injury ended his season prematurely. The 23-year-old Jamaican, who was one of the favourites at the Olympics in Athens 2004, raised himself to a new level in 2005. In Athens he finished in a disappointing fifth place, but early 2005 season promised much more. However, he was only able to race six finals during the season. Following the fast times of 9.84 a Caribbean & Central American record (Kingston), 9.84 (windy, Eugene), 9.85 (Ostrava) and the world record of 9.77 in Athens, he then won the Nationals in 10.04. He then withdrew from several races before the London Grand Prix in July. Powell won his heat, but did not finish the final there.

Justin Gatlin was impressive throughout the season, but just got even better towards the end. Gatlin suffered his last loss in the 100m in July in Lausanne and was not really threatened in Helsinki at the World Championships, winning almost easily there. In fact the only real problem during Gatlin’s season was his first round disqualification in the US Championships, but he did eventuallu advance to the next round after a successful protest. The American ran six sub-10 second races (one windy) and ended his season having won his last nine finals.

Eight athletes dipped under 10 seconds this season, which was better compared to seven during the Olympic year of 2004, in 2003 there were also eight under 10s. The overall depth continued going downwards, in 2005 there were 26 athletes at 10.10s or better, 2004 had 27 and 33 in 2003. The United States continues it’s absolute dominance, USA had 38 athletes in the world top-100, with Jamaica second best on eight.

Men’s 100m - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 12 Dec 2005
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points

  1. Justin GATLIN 82 USA 1405
  2. Aziz ZAKARI 76 GHA 1353
  3. Dwight THOMAS 80 JAM 1340
  4. Asafa POWELL 82 JAM 1333
  5. Ronald POGNON 82 FRA 1330
  6. Francis OBIKWELU 78 POR 1325
  7. Leonard SCOTT 80 USA 1322
  8. Kim COLLINS 76 SKN 1321


The men’s 200m saw several young athletes reach for the top of the world lists. 20-year-old Wallace Spearmon was the first one to dip under 20 seconds, doing so for the first time during his career when running in Walnut in April, winning in 19.97. Spearmon and fellow college athlete Tyson Gay were both able to transfer their good early form to Europe as well. Having won the NCAA Championships with another personal best of 19.91, Spearmon set another PB 19.89 in the London Grand Prix and although he only finished fourth in the US Championships, he got a place in the Helsinki World Championships after Shawn Crawford withdrew due to an injury.

Justin Gatlin, who grabbed the bronze medal in the Athens Olympic 200m, only raced in five finals this season. He started with a personal best of 20.00 in Monterrey, Mexico, and only competed once after that before the World Championships. He gained his spot in Helsinki by winning the US Championships in 20.04. Gatlin completed his double in Helsinki taking the gold with another 20.04 result before winning in Sheffield 10 days later with again that exactly same time of 20.04. He suffered his first loss in the last 200m race in the World Athletics Final where he took the fourth place. Gatlin’s 100m/200m double was only the second in World Championship history following Maurice Greene’s (USA) double in Seville 1999. The American only lost two of his 14 finals in 2005.

World Junior record holder (19.93 in 2004) Usain Bolt (JAM) recorded his second career sub-20 second time finishing in 19.99 to take the second place in the London Grand Prix behind Spearmon. Yet the young Jamaican was unable to perform in Helsinki, and he barely made it to the final where he finished in eighth place jogging over the finish line.

20-year-old college student Xavier Carter was another new name this season, Carter set several fast times including a personal best of 20.02 in May, but was unable to follow up his second place finish in the NCAA Championships (20.08). Two weeks later Carter finished last (9th) in the US Championships final and ended his season there.

In the 2005 season there were 25 athletes at 20.40 or better, with 32 in 2004, and 33 in 2003. USA is the best country in this event with a huge 40 athletes in the world top-100. Trinidad and Tobago was second with six.

Men’s 200m - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 12 Dec 2005
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points

  1. Tyson GAY 82 USA 1343
  2. Wallace SPEARMON 84 USA 1342
  3. Justin GATLIN 82 USA 1339
  4. Tobias UNGER 79 GER 1280
  5. Chris WILLIAMS 72 JAM 1277
  6. Usain BOLT 86 JAM 1266
  7. Stéphan BUCKLAND 77 MRI 1256
  8. Aaron ARMSTRONG 77 TRI 1245


Olympic champion, 21-year-old American Jeremy Wariner, seemed to be suffering a bit in the early season in the 400m. A former teammate of Wariner from Baylor University, Darold Williamson, challenged the Olympic champion in the first two meetings of the season, recording wins in Waco and Des Moines (Drake Relays). Williamson set a personal best of 44.27 in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships (won the final in 44.51), but Wariner was back on top in the US Championships where he won in 44.20 ahead of Williamson’s 44.62. Williamson was not able to continue his good form in Europe, he ran two races before the World Championships with moderate results and then finished seventh in the Helsinki final.

Wariner suffered another surprise loss before the World Championships, when 23-year-old Tim Benjamin (GBR) used home advantage in London to win in 44.75 against Wariner’s 44.86. But in the World Championships Wariner was back at the level of 2004 Olympics, winning with a personal best of 43.93 despite the difficult weather.

Another new name on the 400m scene was 22-year-old Canadian Tyler Christopher. Christopher, with a unique style in both running and clothing, recorded his first three sub-45 second races early in the season. He set national records of 44.72 and 44.69 winning in Belém and Saint-Denis respectively.

Another American, Andrew Rock, took a surprise silver medal in Helsinki with a big personal best of 44.35, with Christopher lowering his Canadian record to 44.44 and bronze medal.

23 athletes went under 45 seconds in 2005, 2004 had only 19, and in 2003 there were 18. United States had 29 athletes in the world top-100, with Jamaica in second with nine.

Men’s 400m - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 12 Dec 2005
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points

  1. Jeremy WARINER 84 USA 1362
  2. Tim BENJAMIN 82 GBR 1330
  3. Brandon SIMPSON 81 JAM 1330
  4. Tyler CHRISTOPHER 83 CAN 1326
  5. Christopher BROWN 78 BAH 1322
  6. Tyree WASHINGTON 76 USA 1304
  7. Andrew ROCK 82 USA 1303
  8. Michael BLACKWOOD 76 JAM 1281
  9. Gary KIKAYA 78 COD 1281

WOMEN – Sprints


Despite the fact that the international calendar now brings attractive challenges every year the influence of the Olympic 4-year cycle is still very much in evidence. The Olympic years bring peaks in standards followed by some kind of “post-Olympic blues”, especially for the athletes that have been around for a while.

But this doesn’t mean that nothing of interest happens, rather the contrary, as this is the perfect opportunity for the “stars of the future” to begin establishing themselves. Remember 1997 which in hindsight became the launch of the “Maurice Greene and Marion Jones era” in the sprints.

Although 2005 didn’t bring any breakthrough of that kind of magnitude in the women’s sprints it was very much a year of a “Changing of the Guard”. Only two of the “old guard” – a resurging Chandra Sturrup (age 33) and Christine Arron (age 31) – managed to keep up with the new generation who are their juniors by about a decade: All others in the top-7 in the year list were born 1982-84.

Something which poses the obvious question: To where did the generation in the usually prime age of 24 to 27 disappear? The sensational 2004 Olympic champion Yuliya Nesterenko belongs to the “lost” in-between generation but competed only a few times this summer and never approached her Olympic winning form.

But the youngsters still had - and will continue to have - to work hard to displace Sturrup and Arron. They did succeed at the World Championships with Lauryn Williams prevailing in a blanket finish from Veronica Campbell and Arron. But statistically Sturrup was the fastest of the year with her 10.84 in Lausanne, and Arron was the most prolific sub-11 runner (7 vs 5 for Campbell and 3 for Williams). Arron also was most impressive in the Golden League series winning five out of six contests, only losing in Zürich.

At the very top 2005 stood up well against 2004 – actually the number of sub-11 races increased by 50% from 12 to 18! – but going a little bit below the surface there was the traditional post-Olympic drop in standards: 25th place fell from 11.16 to 11.24, 50th from 11.27 to 11.33 and 100th from 11.38 to 11.43.

Women’s 100m - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 12 Dec 2005
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points

  1. Christine ARRON 73 FRA 1376
  2. Veronica CAMPBELL 82 JAM 1364
  3. Lauryn WILLIAMS 83 USA 1356
  4. Chandra STURRUP 71 BAH 1343
  5. Lisa BARBER 80 USA 1320
  6. Sherone SIMPSON 84 JAM 1297
  7. Yuliya NESTERENKO 79 BLR 1289
  8. Kim GEVAERT 78 BEL 1268


Sadly this event continues to be more or less completely squeezed out of the major GP-meets by the 100m and the 400m, distances that apparently are considered by the meet organisers to be more “glamorous”. On the big meet circuit in Europe in 2005 it was only London that tried to bring together the top female 200m runners for a non-championship encounter.

One can only hope that this will change in the future because otherwise the athletics world would be deprived of seeing exciting young athletes like Allyson Felix (USA) and Veronica Campbell (JAM) competing in their best event. Especially Felix - like legends such as Tommie Smith (USA) and Frankie Fredericks (NAM) - has a talent absolutely tailormade for the halflap distance.

The teenaged (didn’t turn 20 until November) Felix completely dominated the 200m this summer winning all her ten competitions (including the World Championships and World Athletics Final) without ever showing any stress. Her ability to seemingly effortly keep her stride for the full distance resulted in her recording the four fastest (all sub-22.20) times of the year.

The only thing missing was a sub-22 time, but that is something that the whole world has been missing since Marion Jones Olympic winning run in Sydney 2000. However, we will probably not have to wait very much longer, especially if 2006 brings some head-to-head encounters between Felix and Campbell.

The untapped potential of the event is well illustrated also by the example of Rachelle Boone-Smith (USA). Her significant improvement in 2005 brought her the silver medals behind Felix at both the US Trials and the World Championships, but she ran no other 200m than the Worlds during the European season. With no worldwide championship in 2006 it is important to have some other meets on the international circuit creating attractive head-to-head confrontations to inspire more athletes to exploit their talent for the 200m.

Women’s 200m - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 12 Dec 2005
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points

  1. Allyson FELIX 85 USA 1367
  2. Veronica CAMPBELL 82 JAM 1331
  3. Christine ARRON 73 FRA 1324
  4. Cydonie MOTHERSILL-MODIBO 78 CAY 1293
  5. Kim GEVAERT 78 BEL 1285
  6. LaTasha COLANDER 76 USA 1275
  7. Rachelle BOONE-SMITH 81 USA 1269
  8. Yuliya GUSHCHINA 83 RUS 1264


This is an event where a change of guard took place – well almost – in 2005. 20-years-old Sanya Richards (USA) ran nine sub-50 races, and in the pouring rain in Zürich even dipped under-49 in one of them. The latter a highly remarkable feat as it placed her as the 9th quickest of all-time, only 2nd since 1996 – and the youngest ever!

But Richards still didn’t reign supreme as last year’s Golden League Jackpot winner and Olympic champion Tonique Williams-Darling (BAH) in the Helsinki final demonstrated the value of experience, judging her race perfectly to snatch the gold medal by 19 hundredths from Richards. But four out of six encounters this summer were won by the youngster.

Talking about experience, the third Helsinki medal went to the undisputed No 1 (24 straight wins!) of the first years of the century Ana Guevara of Mexico. Despite being hampered by injuries in her preparations for the Worlds, the Mexican produced by far her best race of the year in the World Championship final.

Williams-Darling and Guevara were exceptions not just in terms of experience but also in terms of nationality in an event which seems well on its way to becoming an internal US vs Russia affair: Out of the 23 sub-51 runners this summer (down from 34 in the Olympic year) no less than 14 – over 60% - represented those two nations.

Perhaps more relevant is the notion that eight of those 23 – more than a third - were born in 1984 or 1985, so not even Richards should assume that she will have the event all for herself in years to come.

Women’s 400m - IAAF WORLD RANKINGS - as of 12 Dec 2005
Position - Name - DOB - Country - Points

  1. Sanya RICHARDS 85 USA 1394
  2. Tonique WILLIAMS-DARLING 76 BAH 1383
  3. Ana Gabriela GUEVARA 77 MEX 1329
  4. Svetlana POSPELOVA 79 RUS 1324
  5. DeeDee TROTTER 82 USA 1307
  6. Monique HENNAGAN 76 USA 1301
  7. Christine AMERTIL 79 BAH 1286
  8. Amy MBACKÉ THIAM 76 SEN 1278